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Upskilling and Employability Challenges in the Events Sector

Paul Campbell, Managing Director, Purple Patch

What does the Release of @Zoom Events Means for Event Management Roles? 

Zoom recently announced the launch of their new product, ‘Zoom Events’, which will allow event organisers to monetize and promote their events on the Zoom platform.

For the past year, Zoom has been a go-to application for virtual and hybrid events.

The capabilities of Zoom Meetings, Chat, and Video Webinars were limited, however, and Zoom Events will make hosting virtual events much more feasible. 

With the release of Zoom Events, and in the wake of other webinar providers enhancing their platforms, hosting virtual events is becoming easier and more convenient than ever.

The future of events is virtual, but what does this future look like for workers in the event management sector? 

Virtual Events Are Here to Stay

In a global study, Zoom noted that 80 percent of US respondents said everything will continue to have a virtual element post-pandemic, and 52 percent said they would continue to attend both in-person and virtual events. 

“It’s an exciting time to be at Zoom where the pace of innovation continues to accelerate,” said Oded Gal, chief product officer at Zoom.

“We know that people are looking for flexibility in how they attend events in the future.

“The hybrid model is here to stay, and Zoom Events is a perfect solution for our customers who are looking to produce and host customer, company, and public events with an easy, yet powerful solution.

“This is another way we’re helping customers scale to meet consumer demands and the evolving virtual and hybrid landscape.”

Going forward, hybrid events will be the most popular event option, I wonder about people’s appetite in 2021 for actually getting together after this, the shock of COVID. Do we really want to go and sit in a room with 500 other people?

I would love to see hybrid events with a small audience of maybe 50 or 100 people. The other 900 or so are virtual. And I think that would be super impactful.

New Upskilling and Employability Challenges in the Events Sector

There’s no doubt the events management sector has undergone tremendous change in the past year. Since nobody considers virtual and hybrid events as a temporary solution anymore, the need arises for event staff who can handle the demands of virtual events. 

Top 4 New Virtual Event Roles 

It will take more than just upskilling workers in the traditional events sector. Virtual events are creating entirely new roles in event management. 

1. Chat moderator

Most virtual event platforms or live streaming services have a chat function, which allows viewers or participants to send messages for all other attendees to see in real-time. You’ll need one or more team members dedicated to moderating the chat, ensuring no inappropriate messages come through and filtering out spam, ads, or bots. If you use the chat to take questions from the audience, then you’ll definitely need someone to field those and submit them to your speakers.

Chat moderation is a thankless, albeit important job. The person you appoint should know the platform’s chat function inside and out, be well aware of common tools used for filtering out spam, and have an organised system for handling questions. 

Where can you find someone adept at live chat moderation?

Folks with experience moderating social media will have relevant skills, as will those who’ve moderated live chats for popular live streamers on platforms like Twitch and YouTube Live. 

2. Virtual host or emcee

At your in-person events in the past, you may not have felt the need for an event host or emcee. Of course, it depends on the nature of your event, but a host can help tie each of your sessions together. For virtual events, where participants can get easily distracted by their immediate environments, having a virtual host set the tone and connect one panel to the next is vital. 

What skills should a virtual host or emcee possess?

Someone who knows how to engage viewers remotely, with experience presenting at both in-person and virtual events would be ideal. They should also be familiar with the event platform you’re using so transitions are seamless. 

3. Technical producer (advising speakers)

A role you may not have hired for your in-person event is a technical producer. This person advises you on which event platform to use, whether you should live stream or record your event, and generally oversees the production of the virtual event. They’ll work closely with your tech support or A/V team to ensure all the mics and cameras function properly as well as arrange lighting and sets for your speakers. 

The technical producer may also coach your event panelists on using the webinar platform you’ve chosen, provide tips for speaking on camera, and handle all the tech stuff that you don’t want your presenters to mess with. A technical producer will need a wide skill set including both technical competencies and coaching or management skills. 

4. Tech support

You likely had tech support or A/V technicians for your in-person events, but they play a much more crucial role for virtual events. This person or team should handle all technical aspects of the event, including ensuring internet connectivity, protecting your event from cyberattacks, and creating an incident response plan for when something goes wrong. 

A technical glitch or hiccup is expected and somewhat more tolerable in virtual events than in-person ones, but they can still derail the flow of your event and frustrate your attendees. This person will also ensure that your event participants have access to tech assistance for issues they incur with your webinar platform. 

Employability in the Event Management Sector

For many workers in event management, the shift to virtual and hybrid events means upskilling technical capabilities. Becoming more familiar with webinar and live event platforms, understanding the basics of audio/visual presentation, and learning the rules of live chat etiquette are skills that virtual event workers may have to focus on. 

Having engaging content is great, but if you don’t know how to handle a dropped internet connection or make the most of your webinar platform, then virtual event attendees will leave you behind.

Paul Campbell, Managing Director, Purple Patch 

Purple Patch are an event management group in London that has had great success pivoting their entire service model toward virtual and hybrid events.

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